Update on My 2017 Reading Goals

A book and wine | rainerlife.com

Earlier in the year, I wrote about my reading goals for 2017. I thought it would be nice to do a mid-year recap and see how I’m doing toward my reading goals. I’ve done a lot of reading this year, so I’m a little ahead on my goals. I even decided to add one more goal since I’ve been reading so much. Listed below are my reading goals, and how I stood on each goal at the end of June. I know, I’m posting this in mid July, but I like the idea of looking at how I did in the first six months. That said, since I’ve been reading the last couple of weeks, I’ve read more than this post reflects. For more info on what I’m reading, click over to my Goodreads account.

✓1. Gilmore Girls Season 2 books
— Finished on March 29, 2017

2. Gilmore Girls Season 3 books
— I have 36 of the 47 books on this list. So, 11 more books to go!

✓3. The Twilight novels
— Finished on March 26, 2017

4. Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
— I’ve read 51 of the 64 books on this list. I was hoping to finish this goal in July, but it’ll probably be August when I finish the Nancy Drew books.

5. Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge + Advanced List
— I’ve read 48 of the 52 books on this list.

✓6. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenges for Fun and for Growth
— Finished on June 13, 2017

7. 25 books from Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Hilarious Books
—- I’ve read 18 books off this list. My goal is to read 25 books, but really, I’m hoping to read more.

8. 20 books from Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Books About Monsters list
—- I’ve read 9 books off this list. My goal was to read 20 books, but I’m upping it to 25. And really, I’d like to read more than that.

New goal:
9. Gilmore Girls Season 4 books
— I’ve made so much headway on the Gilmore Girls reading challenge, that I want to read even more than originally planned. So, I’m adding the Season 4 books to my reading goals. I’ve read 14 of the 22 books on this list, so I think it will be doable to check this season off my list too.

Books Read in June 2017

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Children's books in the library | rainerlife.com

My reading goals for June were to finish the reading challenges. I did finish the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading for Growth challenge,and I almost finished the Popsugar reading challenge. For other reading goals, I am hoping to finish the Nancy Drew books in July. Below are the books I read in June. For more info on what I’m reading, click over to my Goodreads account.


Gilmore Girls Season 3 Books
We Owe You Nothing by Daniel Sinker

Gilmore Girls Season 4 Books
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
The Double Jinx Mystery by Carolyn Keene
Mystery of the Glowing Eye by Carolyn Keene

Popsugar 2017 Reading Challenge + Advanced List
You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson – a book by a person of color.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – a book involving a mythical creature.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – a book you loved as a child.
Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush – a book written by someone you admire.
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – a book with a family member term in the title.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz – a book about an immigrant or refugee.
Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow – a book from a genre/subgenre you’ve never heard of.
Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs – a book that’s been mentioned in another book.
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan – a book based on mythology.

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenges for Fun and for Growth
The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – a book nominated for an award in 2017.

Bookriot’s 100 Must-Read Hilarious Books
Bossypants by Tina Fey

Other books read (not toward a specific goal):
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Book Club by Bill Barnes
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

June 2017

Happy Summer!

Our summer has been pretty great so far! We’ve been spending more time outside and in the pool. I love summer time, and it’s so nice to have a pool to relax in during the warm weather. Oh, and we have a lot of pool toys… and we play with all of them. I think the pool will be getting a lot of use this summer!

Swimming pool | rainerlife.com

Gavin playing in the swimming pool | rainerlife.com

Gavin playing in the swimming pool | rainerlife.com

Gavin playing in the swimming pool | rainerlife.com

Pool time! | rainerlife.com

We’ve been staying busy around the house, mainly working on yard projects. I started adding landscaping near the pool. We had the pool installed last summer, but never got around to landscaping around it. Figured the only way I would get any of it done was to work on one small area at a time. To get started, I added a bed of mondo grass between the flagstone decking and the fence. I dug out the area, placed stone edgers in the pattern I wanted, filled the bed with soil, and planted mondo grass. Between the stone edging and pool decking, I put in a drainage pipe and covered it with rocks. The water already drains that way, so, hopefully, that will only improve the drainage and help prevent the flower beds from being washed out in heavy rains. I will install more drainage pipe and rocks to improve the drainage, but it’ll be a slow process… maybe I can finish in July. I also started adding a few plants behind the pool. This will be a pretty large area to plant, and I’m not completely sure what I want to put there, so I only did one small area. Also, it was harder to dig out because of all the rocks buried in the ground from the pool construction. The soil isn’t great, so I’m digging out the grass and weeds and adding better top soil. Our only non-yard project was when our AC went out early in the month… thankfully we have a home warranty and they got the new unit installed. We have two AC units, so it wasn’t too hot in the house, plus it was pretty nice weather the week we were without a working air conditioner.

Mondo grass bed | rainerlife.com

On Father’s Day, we go to BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. The food is good, the beer selection is decent, and Michael gets a Father’s Day pint glass. He now has 4 – 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. He got one in 2014 because we went on Father’s Day when I was pregnant with Gavin, and they gave him a glass since he was “almost” a dad. It’s now a family tradition.

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse Father's Day Pint Glass | rainerlife.com

We toured a local brewery early in the month. We’ve been to ETX Brewing several times, but never toured it… we always just get a pint and hang out for a bit. So, we wanted to tour the brewery, hear more about how they got started, and see how they brew their beers. It was fun to see their set up.

ETX Brewing brewery tour | rainerlife.com

ETX Brewing beer | rainerlife.com

For other fun activities, we go to the library, movies, and out to eat. Gavin enjoys storytime at the library, and he LOVES to look at books… he gets that from his mama. Michael, Gavin, and I went to see Cars 3. A fun movie that we all enjoyed. Now that Gavin is a little older, we can add taking him to the movies as a fun outing to do. We try to be home in the afternoon for Gavin to take a nap, which he only does a couple of days a week now. The photo below is after he convinced me to let him sleep in the “big bed” (mama and daddy’s room) and bring all of his stuffed animals to nap with him. He can be very persuasive!

Gavin at naptime | rainerlife.com

Gavin | rainerlife.com

7 Apps for Staying Organized

7 Apps for Staying Organized | rainerlife.com

Finding the right tool to help keep you organized is a wonderful thing. There are so many online resources available today to help keep people organized, that it can be difficult to narrow down the best app for you. I’ve tried numerous apps, but have a few favorites that I’ve used for years. Odds are, if you’re interested in something, so are other people… and someone probably created an app for that topic. I use some apps for tracking one specific thing (e.g., Goodreads), while other apps are more general and can be tailored in a variety of ways (e.g., OneNote).

My favorites apps for staying organized:

1. OneNote – I know Evernote gets lots of talk, but I’ve found OneNote to have everything I need to stay organized. I use OneNote to keep track of recipes, travel ideas, and home projects. Michael and I have shared Notebooks to keep track of things too, like home projects.

2. LastPass – This is a great app to keep passwords organized. It seems everything requires a password, and every website has different criteria, so you end up with dozens of different passwords. I’m always forgetting passwords, so it’s great to have an easy way to look them up.

3. Pinterest – This is possibly the most popular way to keep track of things found on the internet. I have “boards” for recipes, home projects, crafts, and other things I’m interested in. I tend to go back and clean up my “pins” after a while. For instance, if I have pins for a home project we’re working on, and we finish that project, I delete the pins when we’re finished.

4. Feedly – This app is how I keep track of blogs I enjoy reading. I divided the blogs into different “feeds”, so I simply click on whichever topic I am interested in catching up on. It’s a great way to read the blogs I want to keep up with.

5. Goodreads – I read a lot of books, but I have a hard time remembering which ones I’ve read and which ones I want to read. I used to keep a spreadsheet of books I had read, and tried to keep a list of books to read. When I started using Goodreads, I got rid of my spreadsheet system because Goodreads makes it so easy to look up a book when I’m out and about. I use Goodreads to record which books I’ve read and which books I want to read. I’ve found new authors and books to read by searching around Goodreads and reading other people’s suggestions and reviews. It’s a must have app for avid readers!

6. Discogs – I use this app to keep track of which vinyl records I own. This app isn’t only for vinyl, you can use it to track CDs and cassettes too. It’s also a place to buy music. I’ve never bought anything on Discogs, but there are lots of records for sale. There is a wishlist feature too, which is nice if you’ve been trying to find something specific. If you have something on your wishlist, and someone lists it for sell, you get a notification… if you have notifications turned on.

7. Untappd – This is an app that I use to keep track of the different beers I’ve tasted. Since we enjoy trying new beers, and I have poor memory, I can look up a beer and see if I’ve rated it. Beyond that, I can see when I had it and even where I had it. There is a great sort feature also, so I can sort by brewery, beer style, highest rated, etc. Before I started using Untappd, I used a spreadsheet to keep track of which beers I had tasted. There are other apps similar to Untappd, and I’ve tried a few, but so far I’m sticking with Untappd. This app has a social media side too. You can add friends and see who’s drinking what and what they like or don’t like. You can also have a wishlist of beers.

These are the main apps I use to stay organized. Some of them, like Goodreads and Untappd, have social features that help you share info and find new things that interest you. There are so many apps available to help people stay organized. What are your favorite apps?

5 of Our Favorite Bedtime Books

Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a very small commission, at no cost to you, if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase. For more information, click here.

Every night at bedtime, Gavin picks a book (or three) and settles in my lap while we read books together. We’ve read a lot of books, but we do have a few favorites that we read over and over… and over! Gavin has a nice collection of books to choose from, and we’re always adding more books. The books listed below are ones we own and have read numerous times. We do check books out at the library a lot, and we usually read those at night too. I’m not including any of those on this list, but I definitely recommend using your local library to find new books to read together.

5 of Our Favorite Bedtime Books:

1. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

2. The Goodnight Train

3. Steam Train, Dream Train

4. The Going-To-Bed Book

5. Goodnight Moon